Less than a quarter of psychiatric research
papers published in medical journals have a female first author,
according to new research presented at the Royal College of
Psychiatrists’ 2009 Annual Meeting.
The researchers say their findings point to a
clear “gender gap” in authorship of medical research – a gap that
has shown no signs of narrowing over the last decade.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Rafey Faruqui and
colleagues examined psychiatric research papers published in
leading medical journals in UK, USA and Pakistan over two study
periods: 1998-1999 and 2005-2006.
In the UK and USA, the team analysed two
leading psychiatric journals: the British Journal of
Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Out of a total of 1,236 papers published, 849 (69%) had a man
listed as the first author. Only 315 (25%) of papers had a female
first author. There was no significant change over the two study
In Pakistan, the team analysed psychiatric
research papers published in several Pakistani medical journals. Of
the 172 papers included, 140 (81%) of the first authors were men.
Only 32 (19%) of the first authors were women. Again, there was no
significant change over the eight year study period.
The researchers said: “The findings are
consistent between the two Western countries and Pakistan. The
gender gap clearly persisted across the two study periods despite a
reported rise in number of women entering medical schools and a
higher number of women joining psychiatry as their field of
practice. There may be several explanations behind this gender gap
in academic publishing including career based barriers in academic
progression, gender differences in life style and work choices, and
family commitments. These findings have implications for future
workforce planning, as well as for equity and career pathways
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Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 – 5 June 2009